For millions of keen football fans around the globe, two stellar players have shone more brightly than any others of their generation, fuelling a constant debate surrounding which is the GOAT – the Greatest of All Time.
We are talking about the enduring contest of Lionel Messi versus Cristiano Ronaldo, both of whom have consistently dazzled us with their phenomenal abilities for almost two decades. They have smashed countless records, encouraged an overwhelming sense of appreciation for their levels of excellence, and amassed immense followings on social networks, during a digital era that has evolved in tandem with their brilliant careers.
But all good things must eventually come to an end, as Messi and Ronaldo reach the twilight of their playing days, meaning the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar could well be their last. As always, everyone will be wondering which of these two superstars will achieve the most success, whether collectively with their teams or via their own individual brilliance.
Collective ambitions to win the World Cup
Regardless of their massive collection of club and individual honours, neither Lionel Messi nor Cristiano Ronaldo has ever lifted the World Cup trophy, although they have both won continental championships with their national teams. Likewise, this could be the last opportunity for World Cup glory, given their ages.
Ronaldo has helped Portugal to claim two continental titles, proving instrumental when they won the UEFA European Championship in 2016, despite limping out of the 1-0 final victory against France with an injury. He was also the crucial ingredient when Portugal enjoyed a successful 2018-19 UEFA Nations League campaign, becoming the first country to win the competition.
Messi came agonisingly close to winning the World Cup in 2014, when Argentina reached the final yet lost in extra time against Germany. Having also ended up on the loosing side in three Copa America finals (2007, 2015, 2016), it almost seemed as though national team glory was destined to evade him. Nevertheless, in 2021 Messi and Argentina finally won the Copa America at long last.
Odds now vary amongst international bookmakers ahead of the 2022 World Cup, including those considered to be amongst the best football betting sites in India, rated and reviewed by experts as the most reliable places to wager. Comparing the value of odds is always worthwhile, which leads us to find that Argentina are backed as one of the tournament favourites, while Portugal are only tipped as having an outside chance of lifting the trophy.
Pressure to play starring roles
It goes without saying that throughout the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, fans and pundits alike will be focusing on the performances of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, both of whom are capable of individual brilliance that can change games in an instant. Argentina and Portugal will both be heavily reliant on their iconic veteran superstars.
Mindful of this, looking at the top goalscorer markets for the World Cup makes for interesting analysis, particularly when it comes to these two fascinating players. Current favourite to win the Golden Boot is England striker Harry Kane, closely followed by Kylian Mbappe with France. But we then have to look further down the list of odds, because while Messi and Ronaldo are both expected to score plenty of goals, they are not being tipped to top the scoring charts.
Interestingly, odds ahead of the World Cup are generally pricing Messi and Ronaldo as having an even chance of winning the Golden Boot award, given that both are priced at very similarly lengthy odds. But this could also provide added value for anyone keen to back their phenomenal scoring abilities, especially if they are in stellar form at the tournament.
Last major international tournament
As we mentioned right at the start, Lionel Messi and Cristiano are both very much in the twilight of their footballing careers, which means there is a strong possibility this will be the last time either of them competes in a World Cup tournament. Playing on the biggest international football stage of them all, both will be keen to bow out in a blaze of glory.
Unfortunately, there is no avoiding the advancing years and getting older, on the journey through life that affects us all. Insofar as the international career of 37-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo is concerned, the Portuguese legend has already indicated that after the 2022 World Cup, his ambition is to play at the 2024 UEFA European Championship in Germany. Already the highest scorer in international football, that record could be increased further.
The story for 35-year-old Lionel Messi could be somewhat different. The Argentine maestro is uncertain whether he will continue representing his country, once the 2022 World Cup is concluded. Right now he is keeping everyone guessing, preferring to focus on helping his national team in the immediate future, although it does appear that Messi has plans to retire from international football.
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